Industry interview: What are the mortgage tech trends for 2021?
In the first of a new series of features for MFG, Lisa Martin from TMA Club interviews James Tucker of Twenty7Tec about the ‘must have’ digital tools to survive Covid restrictions and what mortgage tech trends the industry should be following in 2021
Lisa Martin (LM): The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the development and implementation of technology in the mortgage market. Which digital tools will be most beneficial to lenders both during the rest of the crisis and once the market returns to normal?
James Tucker (JT): The pandemic has some way left to run yet. It’s unlikely that (at lenders) everyone will be back in the office until, I would suggest, the beginning of the second half of 2021.
In light of continued working from home, it seems to me that two areas in particular stand out: the need to use a data-informed approach to make business decisions, and finding operational efficiencies.
If lenders can access real time data analytics which show trends in demand, they can react quicker and even begin to anticipate them with greater accuracy.
We know that some lenders are deploying this sort of data to gauge requirements on operational resource.
We’ve even done the same in our own business – we extended our support hours to 8am to 7pm based on data which showed our customers were searching for mortgages earlier into the morning and later into the evening.
In terms of operational efficiency – we clearly have a bandwidth issue at the moment with the market throttled a little based on operational capacity.
The work we have just completed to integrate our CloudTwenty7 system with Virgin Money is already reducing the time from product selection to submission for advisers. That type of efficiency can give all market participants more capacity to focus on more complex tasks.
LM: What do technology providers need to take into account when it comes to developing platforms for advisers? What are the biggest issues facing advisers in this area?
JT: As a smaller business, we can move quickly and focus easily. But, given our size, we can’t be all things to all people.
The best thing to do is pick the areas where you add real expertise and insight, and that no-one else can really emulate what you’re doing.
Then plug in best-of-breed third parties that support other parts of the journey, letting your customers choose which parts of their and other people’s tech they want to use as every customer is different.
Advisers don’t like the idea of being tied into one provider and not able to move if that provider doesn’t evolve. Hence why we publish our roadmap.
One more thing: all good tech companies have a couple of traits in common. First, they are obsessed with their clients. They think about them every hour of every day.
The second trait is that they focus on where clients’ pain points are and they look to address their real world problems. Think of Apple – it rarely does anything first – it was late to the phone market which it now dominates, and it was late to the music market which it co-dominates.
But what it does, possibly better than any organisation in the world, is focus on what customers want and what they need and making it as simple as possible to use and buy.
LM: Looking ahead to the next 12 months, what do technology providers and developers need to be doing more of in your view?
JT: Integrations. If we tie up all the best tech that already exists it’ll mean that brokers and lenders can design their own best-in-class advice journeys with whatever tech they want to use.
If your tech provider doesn’t offer application programming interface (API) connectivity to other third parties nowadays, then you have to ask “Why?”
LM: What do you think the next big development will be in mortgage tech?
JT: We’re seeing API connectivity kick off in a big way now, and we’re hugely excited by that move.
We are always looking to the future however, and personally I believe that the next big move will be in how mortgage products are designed, built and tailored to individual customers’ circumstances.
There’s a marketing theory about the ‘audience of one’ because we can tailor things so much. I predict that, in just a few short years, we’ll be looking at mortgages being tailored for individuals based on their criteria.
It reverses the model and, potentially, opens up huge new options to lenders who will be able to balance risk as they take on new business. That’s going to be very exciting if and when it comes to pass.
LM: What would be your advice to lenders looking to improve their digital offering?
JT: Transformation experts have a mantra: people, process, technology – and in that order. If you want to extract the most value that you can from your technology, then you need to make sure that you invest in your people.
Upskill them, think about how they will get the most out of the new way of working. Finesse your processes, simplify them where possible, used connected systems to save time, effort and energy.
And when it comes to selecting the tech, please do have a long-term vision of where you want to be, and what the steps are to get there.
Even though we made it through 2020, please don’t rely on being reactive to short term change. It’s exhausting. Much better to have a plan and tack course as and when you need to do so.
James Tucker has been CEO and co-founder of Twenty7Tec since its inception in 2015. Prior to that, he worked as a hedge fund analyst, investment manager and is a qualified stockbroker. James has a degree in Business Management from the University of Surrey.
Lisa Martin is development director at TMA Club, having worked in the financial services industry for 30 years. She has held a number of senior roles in sales management, operations and marketing delivery and lender relationship management while building up extensive experience working with Directly Authorised (DA) and Appointed Representative (AR) firms.